3 IoT Brain-Hertz Awards: Beauty Masks, Electric Shock Watch and a Musical Dog House

Warning: these IoT designs may hurt you, some literally.

Laser disc vs a DVD. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Laser disc vs a DVD. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

With every budding technology, there are always going to be new products that are clear goofs. The Internet of Things (IoT) is no exception.

Take the optical disc for example. It gave us the wonders of CD, DVD and Blu-ray; but it also gave us the laser disk. Apparently, some believe that putting movies on a heavy disk larger than a vinyl and forcing users to flip that disk mid film are great design choices.  

There is little help to offer the designers and engineers on these products, but we can at least learn from their mistakes.

Here are three IoT designs that are sure to role the eye of many engineers and make them wonder —  WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

This is where the Brain-Hertz awards comes into play. Awarding those designs that didn’t need the added connectivity feature.

The Phantom of the IoT Beauty Mask

Unless you are looking to dress up for an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, this IoT design looks to be doomed from the start. The MAPO connected beauty mask collects data on the moisture level of your skin using a corneometer and impedance sensors. Although most prefer to just use their own sense of touch.

Let’s say, however, for argument’s sake you wanted to test and track it scientifically. There might be a market for that in the entertainment industry, but in this case the mask fails due to a flawed data collection method.

MAPO uses only three independent sensors to measure the moisture level of your face. The odd thing is that only one of these sensors is actually located on the infamous “face T-Zone” which is oiler than the rest of the face. Not exactly an accurate sample size.

The mask then takes a que from another literary masked classic, of the iron masked variety. It allows the user to “boost” their face by allowing the mask to heat up.

I don’t know about you but I much rather put a hot towel on my face than an electrical gadget. There is a reason we are told to keep electric heaters away from skin. But then again people irradiate their skin in tanning salons so what do I know?

IoT Watch Treats Users like Lab Rats in a Negative Reinforcement Experiment

Given the name Pavlok, this wearable device designer is more self-aware than most. The gadget is essentially a wrist band that tracks your personal data and is able to detect when you are falling into bad habits from nail biting, unhealthy eating and even overspending. When it detects you surrendering to these activities, the wrist band shocks you. It can also “shame” you on your social media — we are not kidding.

(Image courtesy of Pavlok.)

(Image courtesy of Pavlok.)

Though the device was originally designed to help people become more active, it has been “upgraded” to track your bank account to help keep people saving.

Negative reinforcement works on many mammals, but the crux is who is in control. When you are training a dog and using its kennel as punishment for eating the couch it is effective because you are the authority.

It could be argued that the IoT would be in control of you in Pavlok training, but in reality you can just take the infernal thing off. It’s more likely humans will associate the negative reinforcement with Pavlok itself, not the action or inaction it’s trying to correct.

There is yet another design flaw associated with this device — its connection to social media. The product publicly shames the user when they do not perform. This isn’t exactly professional looking and let’s be honest, employers look at social media.

This brings to light another threat. The idea of publically announcing that you are currently using a product that can connect to your bank account is troubling given the amount of security issues in the IoT industry to date.

IoT Dog Whisperer

Mechanical engineers Chris Lightcap and Jonathan Azevedo are responsible for the cute yet questionable IoT dog house, Zencrate. Though puppy anxiety is a serious issue for some it doesn’t seem likely that a dog crate with a built-in stereo system will do much of anything except annoy the pet owners.

The Zencrate uses proximity sensors to activate “sound therapy” and vibration damping to help relax the dog during stressful events. The crate will then track how long the dog stayed inside to listen to the music and curate the playlist based on this data.

The crate even has a better bed and air circulation system than most apartments.

Perhaps the silliest aspect of this crate is that it is text message and webcam enabled. As a result, your phone will go off whenever your dog enters the crate, exits the crate, enters again, exits again, enters, exits, and then pees on the webcam.

The one saving grace of the Zencrate is that it uses noise and vibration cancelation to help keep scary storm noises out and calming music in. However, this might be complicated when dog owners call for their pet and issue commands to no avail.

I don’t expect the engineers that designed this product to be rolling over in money anytime soon.

For more bad IoT designs read: 3 Videos of Ridiculous IoT Designs: Bikinis, Jars and Floss Dispensers.

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at Engineering.com, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.